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Fort Worth Botanic Garden, BRIT work together to identify invasive plants

Posted March 30, 2018

Archived Content Information and links provided may no longer be accurate.
flowers and plants in the Botanic Garden
Wisteria, while beautiful and fragrant in the spring when it’s in bloom, has been rated as a highly invasive plant species.

Invasive plants are quite the topic of conversation and concern among botanists and horticulturists across the country. So much so that through a 2017 Farm Bill grant, four botanic gardens across the nation participated in a trial to evaluate 200 plants for their invasiveness.

These gardens used a tool and database called PRE, which stands for Plant Risk Evaluator. PRE is a tool for determining a plant’s potential for becoming invasive in any specific region. The Fort Worth Botanic Garden and the Botanical Research Institute of Texas collaborated to evaluate 50 plant species in Texas.

At the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Zach Gomez worked with BRIT by using the PRE tool to predict or to confirm the invasiveness of certain plants in the botanic garden.

Invasive plants are nonnative plants that can spread on their own and can cause or are likely to cause environmental and/or economic harm. Many of these invaders were introduced decades ago as ornamental landscape plants or as plants that served a particular purpose, such as to control erosion, to conserve water or to grow quickly.

No one could have imagined the costly damage that invasive plants would cause and the threat they would be to native species. Today we know better because we understand the adverse impacts invasive plants can have on wild lands, waterways, native species and taxpayers’ wallets.

We also benefit from recent advances in plant screening technology that can predict plant behavior in a given region. The PRE tool allows for highly accurate (95 percent) predictions specifically tailored to horticultural plants. PRE is a 20-question, plant risk assessment tool as well as an online platform and database enabling those involved in nonnative, terrestrial plant production to know before they grow if a plant poses a potential regional invasive risk.

Visit the PRE website to explore the database already compiled on certain plants. Scores for trials conducted in 2017 are available.

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